Category Archives: Family

Zip Your Lip

To anyone who has said that 2016 can’t get any worse, may I respectfully say

SHUT UP!

debbie-reynolds

 

 

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Home For Christmas Again

She told the story every year with a warm smile on her face.  Sometimes her eyes got a little bit misty.

“It was 1943, and the War was on, and your father was in the Navy, on a ship somewhere in the Pacific.  We never knew where he was.  Like all the other boys I knew, he was in danger every day.  We lived for the mail, we were terrified of unfamiliar visitors in uniform.  A telegram sent us into a panic.  And ‘I’ll be home for Christmas’ had just been recorded by Bing Crosby.  It was Number One on the Hit Parade.”

That’s how Mom started the story every time.

Of course I’ll Be Home For Christmas was Number One that year.  Everyone, or just about, was hoping that someone they loved would, in fact, be home for Christmas.  That all the boys would be home for good.  But all too many people were disappointed.  I doubt there were many dry eyes when that song came on the radio that year or for the next few.

Mom and Dad got engaged right around Pearl Harbor Day, but the War lengthened their courtship significantly because Dad enlisted shortly after the attack.  It was to be a long war, and a long engagement.  But Mom was in love with her handsome man.  But Dad was even more so.

Mom, Circa 1943

Mom, Circa 1943

 

My Dad was drop-dead gorgeous, and I have heard that in his single days, he was a bit of a ladies’ man.  Every girl in town, it seemed, had a crush on Dad.

Dad, Circa 1943

Dad, Circa 1943

 

In fact, my Aunt Sally once told me that she had been manning a booth at a church bizarre one Saturday in about 1995, when an elderly woman came up to talk to her.

“Are you Freddie E’s sister?” the woman asked Aunt Sal.

“Yes I am.  Do you know my brother?” Aunt Sal responded.

“I did,she sighed.  “I haven’t seen him since we graduated from high school in 1935.  Sixty years ago.  He was,” she stopped to think of just the right word, “… He was dream-my.”

“He still is,” Sally quipped.

One day not long after after Mom had passed, Dad and I were looking at some pictures I hadn’t seen before.

“Dad,” I told him with wonder looking at a particularly good shot, “You should have gone to Hollywood.  You’d have been a star.”

“Nah,” Dad said.  “Mom would never have gone with me.  And once the war was over, well, I wasn’t going anywhere else without her.”

Dad circa 1935

Dad circa 1935

Dad never quite got over feeling lucky that he had Mom.  And he never stopped loving her.

But back to Mom’s story.

“It was Christmas morning, 1943, and I went over to visit Dad’s mom and dad.  Grammy E’d had symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease for seven or eight years at that point.  She could still move around (she was later, when I knew her, almost completely paralyzed), but she could barely talk.”

Mom continued.  But your Dad’s mom was singing ‘I’ll Be Home For Christmas.’  Well, she was trying to sing it, any how. She kept repeating that one line, over and over again.  ‘I’ll Be Home For Christmas.’  I thought she was crazy.”

“You see,” Mom would say, “Your father had somehow managed to get Christmas leave – he was coming home!  He wanted to surprise me and wouldn’t let anyone tell me he was coming.  He was expected any minute, and there I was, trying to leave.  But I couldn’t stay.  That song made me cry; Freddie was so far away, and in so much danger.  I couldn’t bear hearing it.”

So Mom left after a while, she had other people and her own family to see.  Later Dad caught up with her and they spent most of Christmas together.  Both of them always smiled at the memory.  Dad was home for Christmas that year, just like in the song.  It was a magical year for them both.

Mom was always touched by Dad’s surprise and by his mother’s loving gesture in fighting back the paralysis that was taking over her body to try to get her son’s girl to stay.  To sing when she could barely speak.

“I’ve always wished I’d stayed.”

We lost Mom on Easter of 1997, and Dad really never got over her passing.

The song and Mom’s story took on an even more poignant meaning in 2000.  Because on Christmas of that year, Dad joined Mom again for the holiday.  He went “home” to Mom for Christmas again, joining her in the afterlife.

Even through the sadness of losing Dad on Christmas, I always have to smile when I hear that song.  Because I can just see the warmth in Mom’s eyes now as she welcomed Dad home.  This time, I’m sure she was waiting for him with open arms.

***

I re-post this story every year, because it makes my heart feel a little bit merrier.

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Filed under Adult Traumas, Christmas Stories, Cool people, Dad, Family, Heortophobia, Holidays, Humor, Love, Missing Folks, Mom, Mom Stories, Peace, Taking Care of Each Other

Happy Thanksgiving

This year I feel incredibly lucky at Thanksgiving.  Nobody at my feast will have voted for Donald Trump.

Nobody.

And they will all be relatives.

Didn’t I tell you that I’m lucky?  It’s true — I will gladly spend then next two days cooking for them.

But I know that not everybody is as lucky as me.  I feel your pain, I really do.  One of my brothers voted for Trump, as did a nephew and, I’m pretty sure, a great nephew.  But none of them are coming — they don’t usually come so I did not banish them.

It’s hard to talk to folks about this election and why we feel so strongly that the wrong side won.

It’s hard to talk about this election and not place all Trump voters into Hillary’s stupid basket of deplorables.

It’s hard to talk about this election to Trump voters and not slap them upside the head for being stupid, for placing our democracy at risk, for threatening the future of the planet either by a Trump tiff or by his unwillingness to accept that climate change is real and to do something about it.

For those of you who need assistance, I give you this video — with a shout-out to my friend Karen:

 

 

Not that it will change anything.

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you who are celebrating.

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I’d Like To Buy The World A …

You’ve been asking for more poop from me.  Be careful what you wish for.

Because today is World Toilet Day!

This morning, I was inspired as shit by my friend Judy when she alerted me to the arrival of World Toilet Day (which I’d somehow forgotten?!?) and to Mr. Toilet himself.  And to this article.

Mr. Toilet is my hero.  Seriously.

Mr. Toilet was not born with that name.  Nope, Mr. Toilet is actually a rich, big-hearted man named Jack Sim who wants to do good in the world with the shitload of money he made in construction.  So, being flush with cash, Jack was inspired when he read a statement by his country’s (Singapore) then prime minister:

He said we should measure our graciousness according to the cleanliness of our public toilets.

As a travel lover, let me tell you that nothing, and I do mean nothing, says “welcome” like a clean, accessible toilet.   (As a Crohn’s patient, however, I stay home a lot.)

As I said last year on this auspicious occasion,

The point of World Toilet Day is actually pretty important.  People without access to hygienic facilities risk illness, many women are preyed upon and attacked as they seek out a place to go.  Diseases are transmitted, including infections, cholera, well, here’s a picture.

The "F-diagram" (feces, fingers, flies, fields, fluids, food), showing pathways of fecal-oral disease transmission. The vertical blue lines show barriers: toilets, safe water, hygiene and handwashing. Source WikipediaThe “F-diagram” (feces, fingers, flies, fields, fluids, food), showing pathways of fecal-oral disease transmission. The vertical blue lines show barriers: toilets, safe water, hygiene and handwashing.
Source Wikipedia

Mr. Toilet founded the World Toilet Organization (WTO) in 2001.  As Judy’s article says:

It’s a nonprofit coalition of leaders from more than 40 countries who try to come up with innovative solutions to tackle the world’s sanitation and water problems.

Together these loo lovers started the World Toilet College and SaniShop, initiatives that train entrepreneurs not only to make household toilets but also to maintain them and market them in the developing world. More than 4,000 people have been trained since 2005; the WTO says that up to 10,000 toilets were assembled in 2010 alone.

But it’s the way Mr. Toilet wants to go about increasing toilets that hit me where I live.

So first you have to make owning a toilet not just rational but aspirational. You have to make a toilet come with bragging rights, like a Louis Vuitton handbag.

Aspiration is important, as you can see even rich people have really nice toilets — they go for the highest level all the time. So this is the same as the poor people. They aspire to own products that have bragging rights, like a cellphone or television. The psychology is exactly the same.

He wants to first make owning and using a toilet funny, then sexy, and then normal.  He wants to remove the taboo on poo.  He wants people to laugh about, talk about and sing about toilets.

Here.  I’ll help.

Who knew that World Toilet Day would lead me to find the theme song for my life.

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Eleven/Eleven

Friday, 11/11/16 is a big day in my family.  It’s Adoption Day.  Our 25th.

You see, on November 11, 1991, my husband John and I adopted our son, Jacob.  He was 3-1/2 months old at the time.  Jacob was born in Chile, and John and I literally traveled to the end of the earth to turn a happy couple into a happier three-some.   It was on 11/11 when the Chilean court approved us and said, yes, Elyse and John, “You’re Parents!”

For years, I’ve told Jacob that I knew something was up with that number.  As a teenager, I was fixated on 11:11.  I got a clock radio for my 16th birthday – it was an old-fashioned “digital” clock, with numbers that literally flipped on a carousel.  Every night I waited until 11:11 before I could go to sleep, no matter how tired I was.  I’ve always told Jacob that, even though I didn’t know what it meant then, well, my heart obviously knew that 11:11 meant something.  Something big.

But I didn’t know just how big or just how wonderful.

Because 11/11 = Jacob.  Our son, my baby, our boy, our young man.  Our hilariously funny, nutty, astute guy.  Our pride and joy.   Jacob, you continue to delight, amuse and inspire us.  We love you, Peanut.

And because we all need to laugh, here’s one of Jacob’s favorite Elevens.  And we all need to laugh, don’t we?

*****

And Happy Veterans Day to any/all Veterans.

[This is a re-post.  Updated.  Because I’m busy.  Sheesh.]

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Filed under 2016, Family, History, Holidays, Humor, laughter, Love, Plagarizing myself

Once in a While

Today would have been my mom’s 97th birthday.  She’s been gone a while now.

She was a singer in her twenties, well known locally for her smoky, sultry voice.  According to one version of my parents’ “how we met” story, Mom was performing when Dad fell in love.

This was one of her favorites.

Happy Birthday Mom!  I can still hear you singing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Cool people, Crazy family members, Family, Love, Missing Folks, Mom

Generally Speaking Redux

Maybe I’ve mentioned once or twice that my brother, Fred, was a wonderful big brother.  I really don’t exaggerate.  If  you could have made up the perfect big brother, it would have been Fred.  But you probably would have given him a better name.

Fred is 3 years older than me.  And he played with me all the time.  He didn’t beat me up.  He wasn’t mean.  He let me tag along wherever he went.

He actually seemed to enjoy my company, too.  Or at least, it never occurred to me that he might not be enjoying it.  Perhaps I was late in picking up some social clues.  Anyway, I can honestly not remember Fred ever hurting me, or setting me up to fail, or doing any mean big brother things to me.

He was my hero.  When we tucked towels into our jammies and jumped off the back of the couch, I was not just pretending Fred was Superman.  He was Superman.  Of course I also thought that our dog, Tip, was SuperDog when we called him “Kripto,” tucked a dishtowel into his collar and pushed him off the back of the couch.

It was during the late 1950s and early 60s; we saw Westerns on TV and in the movies — The Lone Ranger, Branded, How the West Was Won, and more.  There were a lot of shoot outs at our house, too, because that’s what we played most of the time.   Fred invented great games for us.  Cowboys and Indians, gun fights, sheriff and posse.

Fred was always the hero.  Me?

I was the bad guy who got outgunned and had to keel over and die.

I was the outlaw brought to justice by the handsome sheriff.

I was the squaw who had to skin and cook the deer.

I always lost.

I felt good that at least I had a better part than Tip.  Tip was the deer, and Fred and I would chase him around pretending to shoot him with arrows.  Fred and his friends once caught Tip and tied him onto our broom and carried him Indian-style, to roast over our pretend fire.  Tip escaped and didn’t want to play Indian for a week or so.  We did not eat him.

Tip was much less cooperative for some reason. (Google Image)

Tip was much less cooperative for some reason. (Google Image)

Losing wasn’t a condition for Fred to play with me, but it was reality.  Fred always won.  He was always first, fastest, bravest.  He was always the hero.

Fred’s pretend horse, Thunder, was faster than my horse, Lightning, even after Fred discovered that in real life lightning comes first.  Fred showed me pictures of lightning in “the big dictionary” – a huge reference book we loved to look at.  It had the coolest pictures and lots of words we couldn’t read.  If something was in the big dictionary, it was fact.  Period.  “In real life,” Fred said, pointing to a picture of a scary bolt in a stormy sky, “Lightning is faster than thunder.  But not with horses.”

I really didn’t mind.  If Fred’s horse was slightly faster than mine, that was OK.  We were a team.

But one day when Fred wanted to play Cowboys and Indians, I’d had enough of losing.  Maybe I was growing up.

“I wanna be the cowboy,” I insisted.  “You always get to be the cowboy.  I always get shot.”

“OK,” Fred said.  He didn’t argue or try to convince me to be the Indian.  I should have been suspicious.  But I’ve always trusted Fred completely.  I knew he would never be mean to me.

“OK,” said Fred, again, thinking up a new game.  “You can be a General!  I’ll be an Indian, ummmm, I’ll be called Crazy Horse.”

“OK!” I said, excitedly.  A General!  I wasn’t just cowboy.  I was gonna be a general!

I blew my bugle, called my troops to arms.  My imaginary troops and I rode off on our stallions to fight the Injuns.

I blew my bugle again and my (pretend) troops surrounded me.  We heard Indian war whoops from Fred and his Indian braves.  Fred/Crazy Horse and his braves came at me, surrounding me and my men on all sides.  But I wasn’t worried.  I was a general.  And even at that age, I knew that the cowboys always win.

And then Fred shot me.

I did not flinch.  I did not fall.  I did not succumb to my wounds.  I screamed bloody murder:

“I’m the cowboy!  You can’t shoot me!

I’M THE GENERAL!

Fred calmed me down and took me by the hand over to the big dictionary.  He turned the pages and showed me a picture of a general in a cowboy hat with blond curls.  He looked just like me.  Except for the mustache (mine grew in many years later).

Thanks a lot, Google

Thanks a lot, Google

George Armstrong Custer.

“That’s General Custer,” Fred said.  “Crazy Horse killed him.  Or Sitting Bull did.  Some Indian killed him at the battle of Little Bighorn.  The Sioux Indians surrounded General Custer and his men and killed them.”

I didn't have a chance

I didn’t have a chance

If it was in a book, in the big dictionary, well then,  I had to die.  It was right there in black and white with a color picture.  It was my fate.

We went back over to the battlefield (the front hall) and started the battle again.  Again, I blew my bugle and rallied my troops into a circle around me.  Again, the Indians pressed forward, surrounded us.

Again, General Custer got shot.  And this time he/I was brave.  I clutched my heart, tossed my curls and fell dead.

*     *     *

I owe my devotion to the underdog and my tendency to look everything up to my big brother, who is still wonderful.  Today, I will be visiting my big brother/hero, coincidentally, so I decided to re-run this post.

Because today,  June 25th is the 140th Anniversary of the Battle of Little Bighorn.

And speaking once more as General Custer, I deserved exactly what I got.

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